I’m confused, does cadence matter in a group ride

So my friend and I rode the same race staying in the same group. We have basically the same weight as well. I guess I just unlocked the specialized bike on level 14 or something so I’m a few levels a head of my buddy.

The previous rides we did, when we are in the same group, we basically run similar cadences and similar power numbers. We are the same.

We were doing a recovery ride, so I was focusing on cadence and I averaged 158 watts and 95 cadence, meanwhile my friend averaged 179 watts and 82 cadence.

We were both confused. Does Zwift reward higher cadence? Why would the wattage be that different for basically the same results?

Hi @Tim_Kowalyk

Welcome to the forum.

It depend on what gear you use. With a 53/11 combination you will need less cadence but more torque and with 30/34 you will need higher cadence and less torque.

Zwift only use the power number that is send from the trainer (assuming a smart trainer or power meter)

Zwift does not use cadence for anything except to make the avatar legs move and to show you the cadence number.

Ya so I understand that power is power. Wattage is what it is regardless of what your cadence is. I’m just confused at how it’s possible to stay in the same group riding 20 watts less at the same weight!?

Differences in power can be caused by a combination of rider weight, rider height, bike/wheels weight, bike/wheels aerodynamics, how much time was spent in the draft. If weight is really equal, then height and draft effect are probably the most important factors. Bike choice can be important but if both bikes are reasonably appropriate to the terrain then it’s probably not very significant. TT bikes eliminate the draft effect so if your friend was on a TT bike that would create a big difference.


Power , and thus speed, will vary with how much pressure you apply to the pedals.
This will vary with gear choice but you can really vary gear, cadence and pedal pressure.
You and your friend may have not been as similar as you thought.